Biden’s attorney general is fighting back as the GOP-led House contemplates contempt

Attorney General Merrick Garland is fighting back.

The Republican-led House of Representatives intends to hold him in contempt of Congress this week – if it can muster the votes. Remember, it’s all about the math.

A senior House leadership source told Fox the vote would be Wednesday. But when asked, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., wouldn’t quite commit to that.

Garland was mum when yours truly pursued him down a hallway before a hearing with the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building – even absorbing a gratuitous elbow from his FBI security detail before he ducked into an anteroom.


“Are you going to kind of punch back against what they’re trying to do on contempt?” I asked Garland as we walked briskly down the corridor. 

No response.

“Are you going to kind of punch back against what they’re trying to do on contempt?”


“Do you feel this has been an abuse of the process when it comes to contempt?”

See above.

But when House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, gaveled down the hearing, the bookish Garland threw the verbal book at Republicans. Garland was furious when it came to suppositions that his department had it in for former President Trump and was biased against Republicans.

“These attacks have not and they will not influence our decision making. I view contempt as a serious matter,” said Garland. “I will not be intimidated. And the Justice Department will not be intimidated. We will continue to work to do our jobs free from political influence. And we will not back down from defending democracy.” 

“Lawfare” is the GOP’s new mantra when it comes to Garland, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Fulton County prosecutor Fani Willis. In fact, Republicans accused Garland’s Justice Department of teaming up with local authorities to target Mr. Trump.

Jordan threw a bombardment of verbal haymakers at Garland, ticking through a host of grievances against the Attorney General in hopes that one might land.

“This is the same Department of Justice whose Civil Rights Division has done nothing to address the attacks on Jewish students at college campuses. This is the same Department of Justice who can’t tell us who planted the pipe bombs on January 6th. Who leaked the Dobbs draft opinion. And who put cocaine in the White House,” charged Jordan. “Many American believe there’s now a double standard in our justice system. They believe that because there is.”


“They see that Lady Justice’s blindfold has slipped off,” tacked on Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va. 

But Democrats were having none of Republican conjecture about a two-tiered justice system. 

In fact, Garland characterized GOP allegations of prejudice as a “conspiracy theory.” 

“An attack on the rule of law tears down people’s confidence in the basic fundamental element of our democracy,” declared Garland.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., tangled with the attorney general over providing “correspondence between the department and Alvin Bragg’s office.”

“You lodge this attack that it’s a conspiracy theory that this is coordinated lawfare against (former President) Trump,” said Gaetz. “But when you say ‘we’ll take your request and work it through the DoJ accommodation process,’ then you’re actually advancing the very dangerous conspiracy theory that you’re concerned about.”

Democrats chided Republicans who argued that the fix was in on behalf of Hunter Biden – noting that the president’s own Justice Department prosecuted the first son. That’s to say nothing of ongoing prosecutions involving Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Tex.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., suggested that Democrats had concrete evidence that it didn’t tilt the tables against Republicans. 

“I notice Mr. Gaetz, who took you on first, is not here now,” observed Cohen to Garland. “And that’s unfortunate because he is living testament to the fact and direct evidence that you have not weaponized the Justice Department. He was investigated for sex trafficking. And while many expected a prosecution, you chose not to prosecute this very active Republican.”

Democrats certainly didn’t want to see Hunter Biden – the president’s son – convicted on firearms charges. But the conviction of Hunter gives Democrats an opportunity to argue that the GOP narrative of an uneven justice system fails to stand up.

“When Donald Trump was convicted, we saw an immediate reaction from Republican leaders. It was like within seconds that this trial is a sham. The judge is corrupt. The jury is rigged. And the contrast today is just staggering,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee. “But when a Democrat is convicted – the president’s son, no less – that’s justice. Give me a break.”


Mike Johnson denied that the Hunter Biden conviction undermined GOP claims. 

“It doesn’t. Every case is different. And clearly the evidence was overwhelming here. I don’t think that’s the case in the (President) Trump trials. And all the charges that have been brought against him have been obviously brought for political purposes. Hunter Biden is a separate incident,” said Johnson.

If Republicans forge ahead with contempt, it’s because they have the votes – despite their narrow majority. Moderates now appear to be willing to find Garland in contempt of Congress.

“I think this administration has sought to run out the clock and avoid the responsibility,” said Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y. “I don’t have to agree or disagree with a president to know that Congress has a responsibility to provide the checks, balances and oversight. And this administration should comply with it, whether they like it or not. I’ll certainly support a contempt vote.”

“He has a responsibility to comply with lawful subpoenas,” said Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y. “He is picking and choosing what he wants to comply with.”

The House voted in 2012 to hold then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. House Republicans accused Holder of withholding documents related to a gun-running investigation called Fast and Furious. The House voted 255-67 to hold Holder in criminal contempt. Two Republicans voted nay. Seventeen Democrats voted yes. But most Democrats sat out the vote in protest. 

Don’t expect any Democrats to join the effort this year. And the DoJ won’t prosecute Garland.

Republicans know that. And while many want to stand up for the institution, many would prefer to have the issue heading into November. They’ll point to the Biden Justice Department failing to prosecute Garland for not cooperating with Congress. Yet the DoJ prosecuted former Trump aides Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro for failing to comply with subpoenas related to January 6.

Republicans will remind their voters of that. And they were sure to threaten Garland in case former President Trump returns to the White House. 

“You know what happened to Peter Navarro and Steve Bannon when they decided to defy a subpoena of the Congress?” asked Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C. “Mr. Navarro’s in prison.”

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